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When the Killing's Done, By TC Boyle

Conservation thriller with no end of rats

Here is an unusual subject for a thriller: the conflict between biologists who want to manage wildlife numbers, and animal-rights activists who want to stop them.

Alma Takesue and her team plan to exterminate the black rats on the island of Anacapa, off California, because they threaten nesting birds; but Dave LaJoy and his band of nut jobs will do anything to save the rats. (It's clear whose side we're supposed to be on.)

Objects, landscapes, weather, characters, animals, food, clothing ... all are meticulously described. The tension takes time to build, however, and T C Boyle's sentences tend to meander. Not that he ever loses syntactical control, but reading one 80-word sentence after another gets tiring.